PTT Insufficiency: in the hospital

In the Hospital

My Surgery

I went in for surgery on 2 June 1997. They put me under a sedative and a hypnotic. The latter prevents the storage of long-term memories, a form of analgesia I find disturbing.

The surgical prep was easy ("Don't eat") and I was pleased that it lacked a number of plausible indignities.

The surgery was supposed to last about 2.5, maybe three hours. Dr. Deland checked my foot shortly before surgery, and had me sign on for a couple more options, should they be needed. The least likely was that he would need to take some bone from my hip.

The surgical room was comfortably warm, at least for me. They let me wear my glasses through the whole thing. I could have opted to skip the sedative, since I had a combined epidural and spinal anesthesia. I could have spent four hours learning about anesthesia from a pro. Instead, I swapped out, and he listened to the Beatles.


My surgery lasted four hours, quite a bit longer than expected. More on this later.

I was unsedated, and various tubes were pulled out of my nose. I guess I had been snoring. I was wheeled into the Recovery Room at about 10pm. I had to stay there until the anesthesia wore off. This would take a while: epidurals wear off in a couple of hours, but the spinal takes longer. No, there was no headache.

People in the recovery room are hooked up to EKGs, a blood oxygen level monitor (which shines two different wavelengths of light through your finger), an automatic blood pressure cuff that measured me every half hour on the half hour, and some device I couldn't find that knew when I was breathing.

There were maybe twenty people in the room. Their various monitors would chime every so often: ding,ding,ding---ding,ding which became quite monotonous. It seems to me that alarms should be rarer, but the staff certainly seemed to know what they were doing.

I stayed in Recovery for eight hours, until six AM. The stay did involve one indignity, which I won't discuss here. I was hooked to an IV from pre-op to about three days post-op. I didn't mind it nearly as much as I thought I would.

In the Hospital

For morning procedures, this is supposed to an outpatient operation. Occasionally people spend the night. Since my recovery took so long, the question arose about whether I should leave on Tuesday, or stay one more day. I got different answers from different doctors.

I was in a room with two beds. We had a beautiful view of the East River---the hospital is built over the FDR drive. I had two roommates, both with severe orthopedic problems.

The nurses told me that about half of the patients at the Hospital for Special Surgery have operations to fix unsuccessful surgeries from other hospitals.


I had a patient-controlled device that gave me morphine when I pressed the button, but not too often. I found that the morphine made me dizzy and sleepy, but didn't seem to make the pain go away much. Of course, it is hard to tell how much it would hurt if there had been no morphine.

I had a chat with the pain doctor. We switched to injections of Torridol (an NSAID), and I had the IV removed. It seemed to work at least as well as the morphine. (Others have reported that their morphine worked great. One said that the morphine lowered his IQ enough that he could watch daytime TV.)

I could also use Percoset, a combination of Tylenol and a narcotic. My sister says that Perc "makes everything OK". I never felt the need.

Now that I am at home, I am using Ibuprophen, and have Perc as a backup. I hope the pain eases before the Ibuprophen kills my stomach.

First week at home.

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